From the inbox #288

“Hi again, another from the inbox. This is horribly long, I’m sorry. I identify as asexual homoromantic (or at least I do now, I used to go by panromantic) I met a girl with lots of interests in common and I fell for her romantically. We started engaging in a lot of romantic-coded behavior (she initiated it, I’m always way too cautious about doing something like that because I’m scared of making people uncomfortable– I’m an abuse and molestation survivor, and I would check wayyy too often to make sure she was comfortable with things even though I almost never initiated). Anyways, I was falling for this girl, and I was comfortable with close contact after SO, SO long–I actually felt like a functioning person after 5 years of PTSD from the aforementioned abuse. She seemed keen on seeing me outside of our place of volunteering (where we met) when I offered. And then she comes out to me as aromantic, and starts ranting about a guy she works with who wants to date her and how annoying he is. This was incredibly disorienting. I had nothing against her being aromantic or anything—as someone in the ace community I get that being aro is valid and nothing’s wrong with her etc. etc., and I get the need/want for intimacy, but I just felt like a crappy human being for being in love with her at that moment. I felt like I was taking advantage of her (I was 19 and she was 18 or 17, I think the former, but I don’t know if that matters. I loved her as a friend and as more, and I was terrified of losing that friendship, but I felt dishonest keeping my feelings from her and they were getting harder and harder to hide. I confessed to her in a tone profoundly of apology, and tried to make it clear that I didn’t expect her to feel the same way, in fact I knew she couldn’t. I just wanted to stay her friend, keep whatever we had. I loved everything we shared, and it was enough for me. I was happy, the only thing holding me back was my perceived dishonesty. She kept apologizing for not being able to return my feelings, even as I assured her that what we had was enough. She said we could stay friends, but then the rate of texting and contact just….depleted. She was anxious and I tried to help, I tried to be supportive, and told her over and over again I never wanted more from her–I was fine with her as is. It was a heartbreaking process, back and forth, me always saying the same things and she just…never seemed to hear it. She called for a break but never specified when it ended, and I went along with it even when all I wanted to do was talk to her, work this out somehow. After 5 days of waiting I asked if this was her way of phasing me out. She insisted that I was such a good friend but that it didn’t seem to be enough for me. At this point I was frustrated and angry and explained for what felt like the thousandth time that it WAS enough for me just to be friends despite my feelings but after the way things were going that it didn’t even look like that much was possible. Then she pulls that I made her uncomfortable by seeing her actions differently than she meant them, even after all of my obsessive checking. But she wasn’t forthright with it at the start so how was I supposed to assume? Sure, she said a lot of things that seemed to imply we were just friends, but I’ve known people who are romantically/sexually interested to do that too if they’re just shy/self-conscious/afraid of rejection. That conversation resulted in me cutting her out of my life–I was just so frustrated and heartbroken and exhausted.

I’m wondering if I was in the wrong here. I really did just want to be with her, in any way she wanted to be with me. I loved the intimacy. This didn’t need to be romantic. I was hoping it could be queerplatonic but I didn’t know how to start that conversation. Most of my friends said I did the right thing, the more radical of them even claiming she was toying with me, playing with me. I don’t know what to think. Did I do her wrong?”

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